A weekly ritual for wounded veterans consisting of kayaking down the Potomac for exercise, therapy and free barbeque gatherings organized by the local community is now threatened by the recreational outings of President Donald Trump.
According to The New York Times, the man who frequently applauds our nation’s wounded warriors is also the man who stands in the way of their mental and physical healing.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been assigned the task of protecting the president’s rounds at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., which involves plans to regularly close off portions of the Potomac River that once existed to others including the veterans of Team River Runner, summer campers, Olympic athletes and the area’s leisurely paddlers.
This will leave interlopers subjected to a $90,000 fine.
However, what makes the situation more problematic is due to the nature of war wounds some physical, some psychological Washington’s chapter of Team River Runner likes to avoid the crowds in nearby creeks and the more heavily used lengths of the river which may now become an impossible mission.
“We would feel very overwhelmed,” co-founder Joe Mornini told The New York Times about their lack of privacy. “Veterans need to feel safe. They need to have space. Some of them have come back from Iran and Iraq, and being in large crowds is difficult for them.”
Mornini also expressed specific concerns about the possibility of how members could find themselves stuck in heavily crowded waters, given that the closures are to be announced on marine radio, which few paddlers and kayakers have access to.
“We are very thoughtful about where we paddle, so we don’t go where there will be danger or conflict,” Mornini said. “Our veterans have had enough conflict.”
The two-mile security zone along the golf course’s riverfront includes entry to rapids which are popular among the area’s large kayaking groups, as well as a boat ramp often used by the local community.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, penned a letter to the chief of the Coast Guard this week disapproving reconfiguration plans, according to the Times.
“The president could easily solve this by saying: I don’t have to play golf on the course by the river because I don’t want to be a jerk and inconvenience little kids in camps,” he said acknowledging that authorities are going overboard.
Last year while attending a camp rally, the president promised, “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to play golf.”
However, in his first six months in office,Trump has spent a great deal of time golfing on a course whether playing or in meetings much more so than his predecessors.
Considering Trump’s pattern of disregard for typical White House traditions, including to forgo the Ramadan dinner, it should come as no surprise that he generally chooses to visit his own Trump courses rather thanCamp Davidor the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va., where security is already built in.
The Coast Guard will accept comments until Aug. 9, but the rule is already in effect.
DeFazio, who is familiar with the Trump property that houses two golf courses, plans to question the Coast Guard further at ahearingnext week.